Tuesday, November 21

Build Guide:Clayton puts together Takom's British M3 Grant Medium Tank

We have already seen the review of the review of the sister kitthe M3 Lee from Andy - Now Clayton gets building his Grant in earnest - Check out how it all went together in his construction guide...

Construction Review: British M3 Grant MediumTank from Takom 

Product No # 2086
1/35th scale
4 different marking options
From Takom's distributors Worldwide
Price: Price: ¥4,640/ $42.96 USD/ €36.61/ $56.88 AUD/ £32.45 GBP From Hobbylink Japan

The "Grant" tank in history
The M-3 was an American medium tank used during the Second World War. The American’s would know the tank as the Lee (named after the Confederate General Lee), however, a few small modifications and the tank would become known as the Grant (named after the Union General Grant).

The main difference between the Grant and the Lee is the turret configuration and the tool boxes. The turret of the Grant is noticeably elongated at the rear. This was to accommodate a Wireless Set No.19. It also provided the crew with stronger armour, however, the machine gun cupola seen on the Lee turret was deleted.

During the early part of the war, it became apparent that there was an immediate need for a medium tank that could carry a 75mm gun. Hence in July of 1940, plans for the first M-3 were rushed into production.

Takom's rendering of the Grant and Lee kits - with a comparison picture below that
The urgency in which the tanks were required would see a number of shortcomings with the design.  Whilst the firepower was adequate, and the armour was heavy, the tank design featured a very high silhouette which made it easy to pick off on the battlefield. Riveted construction also proved to be problematic and in a lot of cases deadly for the crews as they would fire off in all directions inside the tank if it was to take a hit.

A training tank - this M3 Lee takes on the elements

The mounting system of the large 75mm was also very backward in its design and seriously limited the ability to track and aim the weapon. Whilst the overall performance of the M-3 was questionable, it was still respected by the German Commanders of the time, and was regarded as a worthy adversary to the Panzer IV.

The M-3 Lee / Grant saw extensive action in the early stages of the North African conflict but would go on to be replaced by the likes of the Sherman.  The Grant did, however, see action right up to 1945 in South East Asia.
There were 6258 examples of the M-3 manufactured, with 2855 of them passed on to the British Government. The British Indian Army would receive 900 with another 1386 finding their way to the Soviet Union under the Lend-Lease scheme.  Australia would receive 1700 M-3s for home defence and training.
The M-3/ Grant in Australia
At the beginning of the war, Australian Army doctrine viewed tank units as minor offensive components within infantry divisions. It had no dedicated armoured branch and most of its very limited capabilities in tank warfare had been deployed to the North African Campaign (i.e. three divisional cavalry battalions). By early 1941, the effectiveness of large-scale German panzer attacks had been recognised, and a dedicated armoured mustering was formed. The Australian Armoured Corps initially included the cadres of three armoured divisions – all of which were equipped at least partly with M3 Grants made available from surplus British orders.

Monty's Grant is included in the box markings

The 1st Australian Armoured Division was formed with a view towards complementing the three Australian infantry divisions then in North Africa. However, following the outbreak of hostilities with Japan, the division was retained in Australia. During April–May 1942, the 1st Armoured Division's regiments were reported to be re-equipping with M3 Grants and were training, in a series of large exercises, in the area around Navratri, New South Wales.

The cadres of other two divisions, the 2nd and 3rd Armoured Divisions were both officially formed in 1942, as Militia (reserve/home defence) units. These divisions were also partly equipped with M3 Grants.

In January 1943, the main body of the 1st Armoured Division was deployed to home defence duties between Perth and Geraldton, Western Australia, where it formed part of III Corps.

By the middle of the war, the Australian Army had deemed the Grant to be unsuitable for combat duties overseas and M3 units were re-equipped with the Matilda II before being deployed to the New Guinea and Borneo Campaigns. Due to personnel shortages, all three divisions were officially disbanded during 1943 and downgraded to a brigade- and battalion-level units.

Details from Wikipedia

Rather than cover old ground with a full inbox review, I will just point out the differences from this kit to the Lee that Andy Moore reviewed not so long ago.

Obviously, the box art differs from the Lee. The box is quite deep and reasonably stout, measuring 380mm x 260mm. The box art is in the typical Takom style, stunning as always.

The kit is brimming with bagged sprues.
The instruction booklet is in the usual stapled booklet style of these Takom releases, however, it is smaller than I would have liked. Not so much for the instructions, but a bigger spread of the colour plates would have been nice.
The kit comes with 4 markings for the Grant.
1/. 2/10 Armoured Regiment, 1st Australian Armoured Division
2/. British 7th Armoured Division, 8th Kings Royal Irish Hussars, Squadron C, Battle of Al-Mazola 1942
3/. 3 RTR North Africa, 1942
4/. Montgomery’s Personal Command Tank, 8th Army HQ 1942-43
The decal sheet is small but printed with precision.
The kit also contains a small photo etch set and clear pieces for the headlights.
Now onto the defining difference form the Lee, the turret.  The piece is beautifully moulded, and in my opinion, represents the cast texture very well. A stunning piece of the puzzle.
The hull of the model is moulded in a single piece and offers a highly detailed representation of the panels, rivets and plates.  I cannot attest to the accuracy of the piece, but it looks good to my eye.
On to the build….
OK, I am the first to admit, I am a bit of a lazy builder. For me, I like to move through the building of the model quickly, probably so I don’t lose momentum getting to the painting stage.   So, in saying that, I have neglected to take any photos of the assembly of the running gear.

What I can tell you is that it is a little fiddly in parts, and is surprisingly time-consuming, but it is never the less, worth the time spent. The mechanics of how the parts connect mean that you can essentially have moving suspension.
Here you see the running gear fitted off to the hull. All pieces sat cleanly in their dedicated positions.
Here you see the result of the time invested in the construction of the bogies. They are workable and could be shown off nicely if you wanted.  The only issue is the kit comes with link and length tracks, so you would need to pick up some aftermarket offerings if you wanted to explore that option.
The upper sections of the tank now come together. The fit is OK without being great. There will be some filling required, and I can see some modellers coming unstuck with positioning in later stages.
The internal surfaces of the hatches are really nicely detailed, but there is absolutely no interior in the model. I guess you could pose a figure hanging out the hatch and show off that lovely detail.
The upper section of the tank now comes together. Part D12 represents three sides of the armour but is moulded in a single piece with v grooves on the reverse side.  What the means is the piece just folds on itself providing nice clean lines and no gaps to fill.  It is a really clever way to approach that section. It would have been nice to use that engineering in other positions around the vehicle.

The periscope for the main gun is assembled here. There is a mechanism on the underside that is supposed to make it move in unison with the barrel, but for the life of me I couldn’t figure out how that would actually work… so mine ended up just being loose and will be positioned in the appropriate position once the model is finished. 
 The upper sections are now fitting to the lower parts. A Photo Etched grill is added as well as the tool boxes. The kit supplied barrels are adequate, however, I had a barrel set in the stash, so I substituted the barrels for after-market offerings.
The turret assembly
Here you see the comparison between one of the kit supplied barrels and the aftermarket offering.
The tracks were sprayed using Tamiya Rubber Black. Whilst this can get a little messy when the glue is required, I just find it easier to get a basic covering down at this stage and take a little care when gluing the pieces together.
As expected, assembly was very quick. The bulk of the time was actually spent in and around the work on the bogies and wheels.

The model was giving am all over coat of Ammo’s One-Shot Primer. I really like this product. Easy to use and clean up without solvents. It gives a good coverage and sets a nice base for the paint layers to follow.

You may also notice the nice PE detail included around the headlight. It is fiddly though, even with the bending template the kit supplies, but it is worth the time to use them.
This was a bit of a whirlwind build for me. It is one of those kits that you can move through pretty quickly if you want to. As I mentioned earlier, I am no authority on this vehicle, so I can’t attest to the accuracy of the kit, but from what I have seen I am satisfied that it is a reasonable representation of the Grant.
The thing that attracted me to this kit was its’ ties to the Australian Army, so with that in mind, it is time to move on to the paint stage.

More to follow very soon stay tuned here...
Clayton Ockerby

Thanks to Takom for this kit to build and review

See more of Clayton’s work at his website “Workbench Hobbies” or join him on his Facebook page